Starting as a dream seedling of creating a brand that celebrates women's collectives, artisanal craft and our connection to the earth and its cycles, Jeanne de Kroon went to India on a mission to seek direction and inspiration for this dream, leading her to Madhu Vaishnav of Saheli Women. Madhu had just formed her women's social enterprise in the small rural village of Bhikamkor where she gathered women from her community together with their sewing machines to encourage community development through creativity and drive to facilitate women's economic and social rural independence.
After listening and learning with Madhu and the rest of the Saheli Women, Jeanne fell in love with their stories of strength and also fell back in love with fashion again. Inspired by her travels to India and a deep found respect for female co-creation and human stories, ZAZI was formed in Jeanne's small student bedroom starting with just 7 ikat dresses.
The inherent circularity and connectedness to nature, community, and culture that Jeanne discovered in these first collaborations would inspire a growing vision to platform and celebrate artisanal craft, nature, and weaving women's narratives through cloth.
Little did we know that our community of storytelling women would keep growing 7 years later.
"This is a story about a global interwoven sisterhood that tirelessly supports small, home grown, culturally vibrant and hand-crafted enterprises led by women."
We are so beyond grateful to be collaborating with such incredible, intentional collectives resulting in 1100 artisans bringing you each ZAZI piece from all corners of the world. From Northern Ghana, the Amazons of Brazil and the Himalayas of India, to the magic of Central Asia in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan, our once small community has grown into a global sisterhood where we can share gifts of craft, forgotten stories and age-old traditions.
ZAZI is a result of the soil, threads and hands behind each piece that is co-created. We believe that there is an inherent connection of wisdom woven through ancestral practices which is passed through our collections from the needles, threads, colours and patterns that carry narratives to live by and cherish forever. By enabling a space where we truly listen and share our stories and the stories of artisans, farmers, natural dyers, and weavers, we as a community can celebrate and honour each other, the crafts we were gifted with and begin to work towards what is needed for true circular and regenerative sustainability.
From the beginning, we have been a 'sustainable' brand. However, simply maintaining a present connection with our Earth is not enough. Regenerative methods that continuously heal Mother Earth and ourselves—going beyond sustainability—are essential to our future. We can help the communities and ecosystems that sustain us by developing close relationships with them. We rejuvenate together.
Each ZAZI piece is a result of intentional collaborations designed with over 1100 artisans from all corners of the world. With our partner families, we weave traditional and ancestral techniques with contemporary ideas to co-create garments imbued with the cultures, places, and stories of which our artisan families wish to tell.
ZAZI is created on the principles of true collaboration and co-creation, allowing space for regrowth and working in harmony with our land, local biodiversity, seasons, and the incredible humans that weave our products into existence.
Our hope at ZAZI is to truly celebrate our artisan partners and their craft.
"If you want to change the world, you should empower the women around the world. If one woman is happy it effects so many families. If a woman is empowered, the family is empowered and as a result, the community and the whole nation is empowered. If we want to provide a better future to our children, we have to empower their mothers."
COLLECTIVE AT THE HEART
For us, it only makes sense that if we choose to weave creations in a different part of the world, we honor this creation as something inherent to their culture. Especially, as the picking and choosing of 'inspirations' leads to the appropriation and erasure of communities’ cultures and history, we stress true collaboration. In doing so, we respectfully celebrate every element of our partner family’s culture: from the people themselves, their stories, and their history of the craft.
When we choose to work with an artisan community, we want to create a family. Together, we come up with a design that meets the desires of our ZAZI customers but also represents every symbol they wish to tell. We foster a continual creative process with our new family members, rather than focus on trends and seasonal drops.
"It's all about going back to your roots. Going back to what our ancestors used to do and how they used to live their lives."
HONORING THE VALUE CHAIN
In addressing resource sustainability, learning of the bio-cultural history of the region, indigenous-led land protection and revitalisation efforts, and cultivating reciprocity with the eco-regional landscapes of our artisan homes is crucial for our choice of sustainable materials. In choosing to work with an artisan community, we also become part of a local economy in which the natural resources we use are local and regenerative to the region.
Beyond respecting the current conditions and giving back for what we use, we also emphasise an improvement and a bettering of conditions within the value chain.
Our pieces are designed by women for women. In co-creating pieces full of love and stories we want to empower both the wearers as well as the female artisans behind them. So, when we focus on the elements of sustainability, women’s financial and social independence is incredibly important in our creation process.